Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Humpy Wheeler on Ray Fox: 'He made a car go fast and last'

   Long before becoming president of Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc., H.A. 'Humpy' Wheeler worked in Firestone's racing division, and Ray Fox was one of his most prominent race car testers. In the ensuing years as president of CMS, Wheeler maintained a close relationship with him.
   Fox died over the weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla. He was 98.

   "Ray was one of the most accomplished men in the history of American racing right in there with Smokey Yunick, George Bignotti, A.J. Watson, Banjo Matthews and other mechanical geniuses. Ray and Smokey were quite the pair, both being from Daytona Beach and highly competitive with each other. Ray was also a hard nosed guy who liked to win. However, he could turn around and help a young driver find success like he did with David Pearson and Buddy Baker. David's first win came in Ray's car at the 1961 World 600 in Charlotte, a feat Baker later did in a Fox Dodge," Wheeler said. 

   "Ray was a true pioneer back in the days when the super speedway era had just begun. People just didn't know what was going to happen on those new big fast tracks that frankly scared more than a few people. His great legacy will be, like city rival Smokey, mastering horsepower in his day. Ray was one of the guys who helped figure out how to make a car go fast and last at the same time. His 1960 win at the Daytona 500 with Jr. Johnson proved that."

   Wheeler is currently chairman of Speedway Benefits, a firm specializing in North America's short tracks and drag strips.

   You can read Fox's obituary here.